Our work in lead generation and social media marketing give us a unique perspective on two different dynamics that are at play in the world of interactive marketing.
The first is the idea of creating a brand online. This is like going shopping for a new set of fancy clothes. You start with the intention, I want to look good, and then you keep trying on clothing until you look pretty much the way that you want. (Or, you think that you look the way that you want, but thats another storysome of us cant ever quite get there.)
For web marketing, this means getting the kind of look and feel, feature set and whiz-bang cool things that let you say that your web site is a pretty cool looking set of duds.
Of course, you factor in practical considerations. After all, just like when you go shopping for clothing, youve got to stay reasonably close to your budget, and youve got to be able to sit down in it. But, when push comes to shove, you are going to err in the direction of your heart.
The second is the challenge of converting online visitors into prospects and customers. This, after all, is the paramount benefit of the internet, that you can provide prospective customers with the kind of information that they need in order to determine whether to work with you or buy your product.
This is nothing like buying a suit of clothes. This is like trying to find recruit athletes to a Division III college. You cant give them a scholarship, you cant influence admissions, but you need them to believe that you can give them a better experience than anyone else. Its about capturing interest, holding on to it and closing the sale at the right time.
Thats an entirely different kind of web experience. Your web site isnt designed on the basis of aesthetics; it has to be designed on the basis of data. What are the images, information points and links that cause your users to take an action that is of an economic benefit for you?
For most of us in business, that action is a phone call or a visit to our place of business. And when the prospect already has gotten information that is important to them and decided to reach out and contact you, you have the highest odds of making that prospect a customer.
As weve worked over the past year and a half with local businesses, weve discovered that there is a tremendous lack of understanding as to how to use a web site in order to create qualified prospects. And, as weve built social media footprints for our clients, and developed broader distribution of their content that has elevated their natural search traffic, weve found that very few have reliable processes for tracking and capturing those users.
Where do you start as a small business? With taking the time to understand the simplest attributes of web tracking. Anyone in business can use the Analytics tool from Google in order to track the activity on their web site. That is your starting point. If you are able to answer how many people are visiting your web site, what kind of things they look at most frequently, and how many of them are sending you additional inquiries, either in person, by phone or on e-mail, then you have the beginning of the information that will help you decide how to make your web site more than a pretty set of clothes.